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Ray had trained himself for this, had studied for this, and in his mind, this was just an ordinary day. He was just a regular guy minding his own business. Wasn't like he'd expected anything anyway, and if had, he wouldn't be cut out for this gig. Cyonara Vecchio, hello Stanley fucking Kowalski. Ray was definitely cut out for this gig. Completely normal day, nothing to see here, move it along, and it didn't even sting when Fraser showed up around noon, wearing his brown uniform and a brilliant smile that nearly reduced Ray to a fucking puddle of goo, whatever the hell that meant, and said nothing but his usual, "Good morning, Ray!"

That's why Dewey took him completely by surprise, just as he was on his way to take a leak.

The hand on his shoulder, propelling him forward and completely into the men's room, first made him spin around, fists raised, shoulders tense and his entire body ready for a fight, but Dewey just threw his hands up and backed off, Huey right behind him.

"Whoa there, tough guy," Dewey said, and Ray didn't have a particularly bad day yet--much due to the lack of running after criminals and following a fool Canadian partner off, oh, say, fucking rooftops--but he still wasn't in the mood for Dewey. Ray didn't think he'd ever be in the mood for Dewey.

Sneering, he just turned away and started to push into one of the stalls--he didn't have any complexes about himself or anything in particular to hide, but it was just like the Duck boys to make a funny about a man's equipment (and really, you just don't do that to other guys)--when Huey's voice stopped him.

"Come on, Ray, hold on a sec, we just wanna talk."

Pausing, Ray stopped, one hand on the door to the stall, and then finally looked back at them.

"I mean," Huey's voice said, dropping as he approached Ray, and suddenly Ray was dead serious, because Huey was nearly whispering, and this was clearly serious shit. "We're not stupid, you know, and we know that certain things can't be known around here, but we're not stupid."

Ray's own heartbeat pounded in his ears, and for a terrifying second he thought the game was over, they'd figured him out, and unspoken insults and offending words rang in his ears, like the time he'd accidentally overheard Marsters from Homicide talking to Mandy in Records, and telling her that "this fucking faggot was all over my case, fucking disgusting," and Mandy nodding and making sympathetic mhm noises.

Tensing, Ray prepared for anything, denial, verbal argument, even a flat-out fight, but then Dewey was fumbling in his pockets, and pulling out an envelope.

"Here ya go," he said sheepishly, and looked oddly embarrassed, "I mean, it's not like you're my favorite guy on earth," and you had to hand it to the guy--at least he was honest about it, "but you got our backs, Ray." He made a significant pause, and Ray could only stare dumbly at the envelope.

"And I mean, we got yours too, of course, and it's like--that's how it is--I mean, you--we get that," Dewey finally stammered out, handing the envelope over and schooling his face back into that cocky mask that made Ray want to clobber him even when he didn't have something brain-numblingly stupid to say.

"It's from the two of us, Franscesca and Welsh," Huey said, and Ray carefully opened the envelope and peered inside. "He says you need a vacation. Maybe let the rest of us catch up with your arrest rate." And he didn't even sound fucking sarcastic about it!

Ray blinked, then blinked again, his head spinning, as he took out the contents of the envelope. Tickets. Plane tickets. And a small note on Franscesca's pink paper. Ray's mind tried to take in both the note and the tickets at the same time, and words like hotel and 14th through 21st and LAX made it through the fog. First class tickets to fucking California, two of them, and holy fucking hell, he could bring Fraser, in fact they had probably counted on him bringing Fraser, because the hotel reservations all taken care of and the note said it was a quiet place, not in the middle of the city, and it was a whole fucking week!

Ray's first reaction was utter shock. After the shock came the cop in him, barrelling his way forward and mentally screaming at him not to go, because he couldn't just up and leave work like that, and Fraser probably didn't wanna come anyway, and then the hedonist in Ray was cheering loudly and beating his cop into the ground, and saying Go go go, get the fuck out of this shitty city for a while, and yes, Fraser would most definitely come, because really, Fraser would follow Ray to the fucking ends of the earth!

And then finally, once the cop and the hedonist were done beating each other--strictly metaphorically speaking, of course--came realization at why, and what Huey and Dewey knew, and that everybody knew they knew, but shit, Ray didn't think they knew this much, only that they knew that Ray was this guy, this nameless guy, and that was it, and of course Welsh knew, but no fucking way Welsh would have told them, not even for this, and no matter how they had found out, they shouldn't be this open about it, they couldn't--

But Huey and Dewey was already moving towards the exit of the men's room, and just before Huey opened the door, the turned and wished Ray a happy birthday, and Dewey nodded once and added, "Yeah, happy birthday, Ray," and there was something in his voice when he said Ray that told Ray exactly what they knew.

Ray stared stupidly at the closing door for a second, before he suddenly remembered that he had a bladder ready to burst, and he looked down at the tickets in his hand, and figured to hell with it. The hedonist in him would win the argument this time.